On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three focus points on offense — and three on defense — to watch as the Kansas City Chiefs seek to avenge their only loss in their last 18 games: the Week 5 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Here are the focus points to watch on Sunday:
Will the Raiders get home with four pass rushers?
The certainly did the last time these two teams played. It remains to be seen who will be available for the Raiders due to COVID protocol — but last time, they were able to generate pressure to make Patrick Mahomes uncomfortable. Some of that can be blamed on the quarterback and his pocket management issues earlier in the season. The Chiefs need to do better handling four-man pressure — and Mahomes needs to show patience to work down to the underneath receivers when the opportunity presents itself.
The only team keeping the Chiefs offense from achieving their goals is the Chiefs — and that was certainly the case when Las Vegas handed them their first loss. The offense stalled out for a large stretch of the second half, finishing with only one score in the last thirty minutes. That can’t (and likely won’t) happen again on Sunday night. If the Chiefs are locked in, they’re going to put up a lot of points.
Getting the running backs going
In both the running and passing games, the Chiefs haven’t had enough production. With this group of offensive players, there is so much untapped potential in the passing game — and it’s still yet to be fully realized. Surely Andy will start utilizing the backs more coming out of the bye week, right? This could be a good opportunity to get this group going. The Chiefs haven’t really run the ball particularly well the last couple games. That isn’t entirely on the running backs, but the Chiefs need to get these guys out in space.
Loading up the box?
Are the Chiefs going to devote a lot of resources to stopping the run this week? Save for one long run by Devontae Booker, the run defense was productive in Week 5. Unfortunately, the back end of the defense suffered; coverage busts ultimately led to the most explosive plays this Chiefs defense has allowed in a game. This week, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have to figure out how much he’ll sell out against the run.
Make Derek Carr uncomfortable
There were few instances in the last game between these two teams where Derek Carr felt pressure. In those rare instances, he was the Derek Carr we are all used to seeing when he plays the Chiefs. Lately, Kansas City’s pass rush has really struggled to generate consistent pressure. This would be a week to come out of that slump. If the Chiefs can make Carr feel uncomfortable, they’re going to win this game comfortably.
Against the Carolina Panthers, Daniel Sorensen outsnapped Juan Thornhill; he looks to have earned more opportunities lately. If that continues, it’s worth monitoring. L’Jarius Sneed could be back this week — and if that’s the case, the cornerback rotation will be fascinating. As he comes back from injury, will Sneed play in the slot, or will he have to wait for outside reps to become available? If Sneed does return, how the secondary shakes out during the first week back from the bye will be something to watch.
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